Photos OK’d in trial against murder, mutilation suspect

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man charged with murdering a Kalamazoo area woman and dismembering her body at his Grand Rapids apartment was back in court Friday, as lawyers prepare to present his case.

Jared Chance appeared in court for the hearing in which lawyers argued over what evidence could be shared at his Sept. 9 trial.

Chance’s defense team argued crime scene and autopsy photos should be excluded from the trial, saying the only purpose of showing such graphic photos would be to sway the jury. But the judge ruled the photos would be allowed as evidence.

Chance is charged with murder, tampering with evidence, mutilation of a dead body and concealing the death of 31-year-old Ashley Young of Oshtemo Township.

Jared Chance with long hair and Jared Chance with short hair
Left to right: Jared Chance during an Aug. 16, 2019 hearing and Jared Chance during his Dec. 3, 2018 booking into the Kent County jail.

The photos depict the state of Young’s body parts when they were discovered by police in December in different parts of the Franklin Street SE apartment house where he lived. 

News 8 will not show the photos that were even startling to a seasoned defense attorney. 

“Exhibit 16 is particularly gruesome, photograph 17 is, quite frankly, indescribable. I’m not even attempting to do so. Your honor, it has zero relevance or evidentiary value other than to inflame the jury,” said defense attorney Andrew Rodenhouse. “It’s designed to inflame the jury so that they can gain a conviction on murder without having to prove murder.” 

The prosecution has 186 proposed exhibits for the trial expected to begin Sept. 9, including 150 photos. Rodenhouse wants five of those to be excluded. 

But Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin told a judge Friday the photos show the reality of what happened to the Kalamazoo woman at the hands of her accused killer. 

“It’s not a pretty picture at all. I acknowledge that but it is an absolutely crucial picture for the trier of fact to see because sometimes there’s validity to the phrase that a picture is worth 1,000 words,” Boivin said.“ The defendant… took a lot of time to do what he did to Ms. Young’s body.” 

The prosecutor will argue that Young was not killed in the basement where her torso was found beneath a tarp by another resident. 

“After the defendant killed her, he dragged her 15, 20 feet into the bathtub upstairs and that’s where he did the majority of the dismemberment,” Boivin said. “Nobody in their right mind would have done that to another human unless they were the one who caused that person’s death.” 

He says the photos make it clear. 

“Until you actually see what dismemberment is, you cannot comprehend what this individual did to Ms. Young,” the prosecutor said. 

The judge agreed. 

“I will allow those five pictures to come in,” said Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock. 

Young was last seen alive with Chance on Nov. 29 at a liquor store about a block away from his Franklin Street apartment.

Detectives earlier testified Chance bought ammonia and beer at the same store after Young’s disappearance. Her purse was also found inside a nearby trash can that Chance was seen dumping something into.

Found at the home on Franklin Street SE was hundreds of shotgun shells and two spent shell casings in the air duct from Chance’s apartment to the furnace. 

Boivin also said Chance talked about how he could with Mario Nelson about how he could get away with murder and he also brandished and pulled the trigger on a shotgun. In his presence. 

“There is evidence that suggests the defendant shot and killed Ashley Young,” Boivin said. “Could he have strangled her? Sure. We will never know because he got rid of her neck and head.” 

This was done to thwart the discovery of evidence and to hide his involvement.

“Nobody in their right mind would do this to another human to cover up an accidental death.” 

Chance was arrested Dec. 2 after his neighbor found a bloody tarp in the apartment complex basement and called police. Part of Young’s remains were found in Chance’s apartment, but her head, hands and feet have not been recovered.

In a jailhouse interview weeks after the murder, Chance apologized to Young’s mother and told News 8 “I don’t know what to do here.”

During Friday’s hearing, Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said it’s possible Chance shot her before the dismemberment.

A detective testified in January that two shell casings were recovered inside the furnace at Chance’s home. A sergeant said the father of Jared Chance acknowledged his son had a .22 caliber revolver.

Chance’s parents, James and Barbara Chance are also facing charges in the case. They’ve both pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury and being accessories after the fact.

Court documents indicated a day before Jared Chance’s arrest, he loaded boxes into his parents’ car, had them stop at Young’s car to pick up another box, then headed to their home in Holland.

A search of James and Barbara Chance’s home revealed a saw under the couch in the living room, the documents say. Traces of blood and tissue were found on that saw. Young’s autopsy indicated the saw was used in her dismemberment.

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